Universal Seal experienced historically high sales orders in Q1 2021.
We are interviewing Blaine Shannick, GM of Universal Seal to get his industry insight.
What do you think caused the quick resurgence in the manufacturing of seals in Q1?
I believe there are 5 reasons for this:
Do you think this trend will last through the year?
Would be nice if it would stay at this level, but once the fear of raw material shortages goes away, I think it will go down. I believe it will stay considerably higher than last year but only time will tell.
Have you had supply chain challenges sourcing raw materials to go into the manufacturing process in 2021?
I was lucky and heard the rumbling in the market that there may be a problem with supply. I made the decision to increase my inventories prior to getting the official word and that helped us out considerably for a while. I have several approved suppliers to source from. We have been okay except that pricing keeps going up.
How have you been able to ramp up your labor forces?
This is the one thing that has been extremely hard to do. We have increased labor force slightly but not what is required at this point. Our Federal government program does hinder us in this matter.
Have you seen market forces pressuring you to increase your selling prices?
As raw materials and supplies are constantly going up, we have had to put a price increase to the market. We may have to consider it again. We are hoping that raw material costs will stabilize, and we are not forced to do this
What have been your biggest challenges as a manager going from a slow period, when the world shut down last year, to the current boom in such a short period of time?
Getting employees to come either back from Covid or finding new employees. We do not have to give long lead times but when volumes are 2-3 times more than normal it will take time to get people hired and trained efficiently.
Why do you feel Universal Seal is well positioned into 2021?
Universal Seal is a North American manufacture and as shipping costs are going up in leaps and bounds, it makes more sense to buy locally. We have some unique product lines that are in demand. The mining industry has rebounded more that I would have anticipated.
Universal also has a philosophy to keep prices as low as possible and to try to get products out in a timely fashion. I have a good core staff and do what it takes to help keep the lead time down.
Even though we are telling our customers long lead times, we are doing well at getting our product out well before the quoted expected delivery date.